Monday, August 19, 2013

Mormon Helping Hands, AFRICA STYLE!

Another week down, and a lot more to go! 

This one was a bit better though! First of all, we did the very first service project I've ever done since I've been out here... aka Mormon Helping Hands, AFRICA STYLE.

Our service project this week was to go out and clean the TVT... Television Togolaise... meaning, one of the biggest and most well known TV stations in Togo! Sweet, huh?!? It actually turned out to be in Kodjoviakope so we just walked to it with all the members from our group (well a bunch of them anyway). It did happen to be at 6 in the freaking morning unfortunately... so we had to wake up kind of early for that, plus we were walking over so it would take a bit longer.

 Missionaries Unite!

30 Rock....or, not?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there, but, well... let me just say that TVT is a tad bit different from 30 Rock. Well, actually... it's completely different because one is a really cool skyscraper and the other looks like an abandoned military facility from the 1960s during the Vietnam War (tanks included). I will let you guess which one is which. 

Every public TV station should have a tank. Or two.

I was surprised they even still broadcasted from that place! It was completely covered in weeds and trash (most of which we ended up burning in classic Togolais fashion). However, there were tons of people who all brought their own brooms, machetes, and other cleaning supplies. I'm a little ashamed to say that I really didn't do much to help out! We got there late and everyone was already working away... I didn't even get a cool Helping Hands jacket because they forgot to give them to our group... which is typical as we are the forgotten group of the Lome District! 

Random pics from the service project, members burning trash.

However, despite that, everyone had a really great time! I was able to talk with a bunch of missionaries and got to catch up with some members from the Wuiti branch, which is actually doing really well and finally moved into their new building! However, I can't lie... one of my favorite moments of the day was when Mama Dobe (remember the lantern story?) came up and said hi to me! I was so excited to see her and happy that she even came! 

Later on Saturday, I got a second chance for service as I helped clean up the branch. Just wanted to show how well I swept up the "lawn". African's really like making sure their dirt/sand is all nice and swept up so I felt pretty satisfied in embracing my inner-African.

We ended up staying until about 11:30 or so in the morning and the members got a lot done. I will say that there were a few members who I think didn't really know what a service project was... as in they were wearing church clothes... I think they learned their lesson. 

The "football" activity today at the beach... including the sign for the beach. 

Not much else happened this week. Today, we had a fun P-day in that the missionaries and a bunch of the members from the group went to the beach to go play soccer. Playing soccer in the sand is pretty tiring I got to say. Happy to report that there was not any human stool on the field we played on! However, I did see a lot of people producing said stool on other parts of the beach. Ohhhhhhhh... Togo. 

The terrain we played on...devoid of human waste. I hope.

We also played a bunch of other fun little games like Tug of War without a rope, one ball dodgeball, and arm wrestling. I'm not sure how to really describe those first two games we played, but when I get home, I can show people how to play them! After all was said and done though, we had a great time and I think it was good for the group to just go out and have some fun together. We all had a pretty fun time. 

I just hope I didn't catch any diseases playing barefoot in that sand. Guess that's why I had to get 8 or so shots before I got here, right? 

Picture of all of us who were there. And yes, I did wear my Eagles shirt again out of spite because everyone knows that football does not mean soccer. 
As for the missionary work, things are still going pretty tough. We did get a brand new ami to come to Church yesterday which made me happy, but I still don't try to get too excited until they come for the second time. However, I do feel as though the Lord has come in and comforted me this week. I feel like I am growing to learn how to deal with crappy situations that are dealt me and learning to get through them. Also, learning how to appreciate the good in the bad! Always look for the good, in any situation, even if it seems there isn't any.  You'll find it!

I feel like that has been an overarching theme in my mission. This mission has dealt me a fair share of crappy situations and learning how to get through them has been the most challenging part so far. It has taught me that sometimes we might not get the results we were looking for but, no matter what happens, results do come. For example, I'm not getting the results I would like to have had here in terms of bringing people into the fold, but I am learning a lot of stuff about how to teach better and am improving my Gospel knowledge every day. That's something I can at least be grateful for. Also, I feel like I am getting to know great people in this group... even though we might not be the strongest or the most perfect group ever, there is love between the members which is something I definitely felt in our little activity today. 

Best be signing off now as I got a bunch of pictures to send home this week! Hope you all are having a wonderful summer and are continuing on being great. Remember, the Lord loves you, knows you, and watches over you... he's always there... you just gotta look for him! 

Love, your corny but sincere missionary in Togo, 

Elder Hawkins

So, a recent convert of Elder Haggard's gave us some coconuts from his coconut tree. Problem? HOW THE HECK DO YOU OPEN COCONUTS?!?! There's no easy "Crack Here" symbol or a tab to peel. We asked Elder Digbe to help and he just smacked it as hard as he could on the counter until it cracked open into little pieces. After that, I decided to bring out the cutting board because I was afraid of breaking the counter.

Yeah, turns out that wasn't such a great idea. After that though... a sudden Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi-like voice popped into my head... except it was Dad's voice and it said, "Be smarter than the object". So, as inspired as I was, I decided to go out on our patio and smack it on the cement. Ended up working like a charm... and also, Coconut is pretty satisfying when you eat it out of its shell! So thanks Sur for helping me out with that one! 

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